Is It Ok to Wear a Bra to Bed?

TEAM KNIX / YOUR BODY

I went through a phase in my early 20s when I wore a bra to bed. Every. Single Night.

I have bigger breasts and was self conscious at the time about how they moved, how I looked braless. I suppose the crush I had on my roommate didn’t help. I always wanted to look good, just in case we ran into each on the way to the washroom in the middle of the night.

I was probably also influenced by movies, media and myths. At the time, women were rarely braless. Carrie in Sex and the City always wore a bra to bed. Did somebody tell me it prevented sagging too? It was all enough to feed me with some notion that this was the “right” thing to do.

I can’t remember why or when I stopped. But I’m guessing my desire for comfort eventually won over. But... Was it ok? Is it healthy to wear a bra while sleeping? Read on!

It’s a Personal Choice, But…

Wearing bras to bed is really a personal choice. If you are more comfortable wearing a bra, wear one. If you’re not, don’t. But, of course, there are considerations to discuss.

The main point is that there really isn’t an objective reason to wear a bra to bed: It doesn’t prevent your breasts from sagging (no matter what Marilyn Monroe said). After all, when you’re lying down gravity is not pulling your breasts downwards in the same way.

So if you’re doing it, do it for your own comfort. 

Myth-Busting: Is There a Cancer Connection?

One of the main reasons cited to avoid sleeping in a bra is that there’s a cancer connection. This is simply not  proven from a medical standpoint, so do not let this thought give you pause if you really feel more comfortable in a bra.

That said, we do feel intuitively like your breast tissue needs some “rest” from being constricted in a bra, just like the rest of your body. Sleepwear is usually loose and soft for this reason - so your skin and body can relax. So, if you prefer sleeping in a bra, make sure it’s one your body can breathe in (literally and metaphorically), preferably not an underwire one for this reason.

Reasons Not to Wear a Bra to Bed

Although the cancer connection is unproven, there are still some real, objective reasons you might give your bra a miss at bedtime:

Circulation

Circulation is important for your body. It allows lymph to drain and blood to flow. And your breasts are just another part of your body. Encasing them in a bra, especially one that does not fit you well, can limit circulation and lymph drainage from your breast tissue.

Skin Irritation and  Health

Skin likes to breathe and keeping delicate skin tightly wrapped can lead to irritation, acne and even infection. If you’re prone to night sweats, wearing a bra can trap the sweat against your skin, which can lead to irritation or other skin problems.

Hyperpigmentation

If your bra is tight it can leave marks on your skin that can cause pigmentation. This applies whether you’re sleeping in your bra or not. But keeping them constrained for longer increases the chances of this happening.

Discomfort

Many women find bras uncomfortable and wearing a bra at night when you simply want to relax. Even a bra that feels comfortable during the day can start to feel too tight when you’re winding down and trying to drift off.

Sleeplessness

Discomfort is one thing, but don’t mess with our zzzz’s right? Seriously if you wear a bra at night and find it uncomfortable, distracting or restricts movement, it may seriously affect your sleep quality. 

It Doesn’t Prevent Sagging

Just to reiterate: Wearing a bra does nothing to prevent your breasts from sagging. Sagging is just a by-product of aging and genetics. There are some other factors that can aggravate it (smoking and sun, for example) but wearing, or not wearing, a bra is not one of them!

Reasons Some Prefer to Wear a Bra to Bed

So why on earth would somebody want to wear a bra while they sleep?

Myth that it Prevents Sagging

Despite being untrue, the myth persists that you can prevent sagging by wearing bras while you sleep. This leads some women to believe that wearing a bra at bedtime is a sensible and sound preventative measure. 

Comfort

Some women find wearing a bra actually makes them more comfortable at bedtime. If this is the case for you, by all means: Go for it! As we said at the beginning, it’s ultimately a personal decision.

The Exception to Every Rule

While we started this article saying that it’s really a personal choice and up to you, there are times when sleeping with a bra is advised. This is usually because it’s medically advised and, if your doctor recommends it, those recommendations trump your personal preference.

Why might they do this? Two instances:

  • Surgery recovery: If you’re recovering from certain surgeries, especially breast surgery, your doctor will likely advise you to wear a sports bra while you’re recovering. This is to restrict movement while your wound heals. So definitely a short term concession for real medical reason.
  • Managing injuries: Similarly, you may have a back, shoulder or other injury that your body needs to heal from. If you have larger breasts, especially, breast movement can exacerbate an injury. So your doctor might advise you wear bras while you sleep to allow the injury to heal.

If You *Do* Wear a Bra to Bed, Make Sure…

So, basically: You do you. But if you do choose to sleep in a bra every night, let us make a few recommendations:

You Choose a Wireless (Soft Cup) Bra or Tank

A softcup or wireless bra will be less restrictive than a wired bra. It will give you support without squeezing you the way an underwire bra does. In our opinion, underwire bras are the ones to completely avoid at bedtime. 

You can also get tank tops with built in bras or pullover bras that will give you support without squeezing you too much.

Your Bra Fits Well

A lot of the reasons not to wear a bra at night are exacerbated if it does not fit you, particularly if it is a tight bra. Good news: There are some easy to read signs of this:

  • Discomfort: Don’t tolerate uncomfortable bras of any kind; this includes a too tight band hurting your ribs, or straps that dig into your shoulder. You deserve better!
  • Red marks: If you have red marks when you remove a bra, it’s a sign that it’s too tight and might be affecting your circulation
  • Overall tightness: You should be able to breathe normally and not feel like you’re squished and misshapen.

If you have marks or discomfort, liberate yourself from that bra (day or night!)

Wash Your Bras More Often

It’s not just your breasts that need a rest; your bras do too. And wearing bras while you sleep exposes them to more oil, skin cells and wear. So, follow the best practices for cleaning your bras, for both their sake and your skin and breast health!